Police in Sydney have closed Bondi Beach after crowds exceeded Australia’s outdoor gathering limit where swimmers, surfers and sunbathers packed in huge numbers onto the sand.
The country banned outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people in a bid to tackle the spread of coronavirus but large crowds of people are still flocking to beaches across Sydney, flouting advice to stay inside.
Police temporarily closed the beach on Saturday. It is not clear when it will reopen to the public.
New South Wales (NSW) Police Minister David Elliott said in a televised news conference that lifeguards would conduct a head count of the number of people on the beach. If numbers exceed 500, the beach will be closed and people will be moved on. If anyone refuses to move, the police will be brought in.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the beachgoer’s behaviour was “unacceptable” and called on local councils to step in to ensure people are complying with the social distancing advice. Under the advice, people should try to stay 1.5m (4 ft 10 in) apart.
He warned that other beaches could take similar action if people failed to comply with the regulations. “Some of the photos that I saw from this very beach, of dozens of families using communal showers and toilets is in complete denial of what this virus is all about.”